• The Tiger Hunters of Tai O

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    Hong Kong, 1954. The British colony was not yet ready to hear about a Eurasian policeman having an affair with the police commissioner’s daughter. Twenty-two-year-old Simon Lee tasted swift punishment. He was banished to the outer fringes of the territory, to the far tip of a wild and distant island a stone’s throw from mainland Chinese waters — to Tai O, the ancient and murky trading post where fishermen, salt-farmers and refugees were thrown together with spies, pirates and triads. Pink dolphins swam the waters, eagles fished the sea, and some still believed that a tiger prowled the hills at night.

    It was a place haunted by history, where corpses had floated in the bay just a decade earlier when Japanese troops occupied the police station, and everybody had a secret about what they did during the war.

    Life was unpredictable for the band of beer-swilling misfits that staffed Tai O Police Station. Some said they needed reining in. But when a stranger was murdered on a beach, accused of being a Communist spy, Lee found himself on an unexpected collision course with his own masters in Central. Who had the dead man been working for? What did the secret agents know? Why was Central so eager to brush the execution aside? And who or what really was the ‘tiger’?

  • Stories from the Royal Hong Kong Police: Fifty accounts from officers of Hong Kong’s colonial-era police force

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    Fighting to survive on a police patrol launch during a typhoon, and investigating a murder by a Vietnamese gangster in a refugee camp. Battling riots during the Cultural Revolution, countering drug smuggling and pimping by the triads, and dealing with bank robbers in a hostage situation. These are just some of the stories told in this riveting compilation of personal experiences of former Royal Hong Kong Police officers.

    In 1997, Hong Kong returned to Chinese sovereignty after 156 years of British rule. This collection of no-holds-barred accounts by some 50 individual police officers, put together by three former colleagues, illustrates the last decades of the colony’s colourful history. This is what life was really like on the front line.

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    Contents, preface and three stories

  • Out of stock

    Sheriff of Wan Chai: How an Englishman helped govern Hong Kong in its last decades as a British colony

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    In 1976, Peter Mann left a gloomy England for the last corner of the British empire: Hong Kong.

    As a police inspector, he commanded a sub-unit and led a district vice squad in Kowloon, before joining the colonial government’s Administrative Service and working in the fields of transport, housing, security, environment and tourism. He also served as District Officer, Wan Chai. From raids on gambling dens to organising Governors' visits, his work involved him in all levels of Hong Kong society.

    Mann’s memoir is an anecdotal, historical and racy account of Hong Kong’s last decades as a British colony and the colourful story of a young Englishman in the twilight of empire.

    Hong Kong is one of the most intriguing places in the world and its modern history is endlessly fascinating. This book is a highly readable addition to the canon of memoirs which illuminate the period.” – Rachel Cartland, author of Paper Tigress

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  • Policing Hong Kong – An Irish History

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    Part of the Royal Asiatic Society Hong Kong Studies Series

    Hong Kong, 1918. A tranquil place compared to war-torn Europe. But on the morning of the 22nd January, a running battle through the streets of Wanchai ended in “The Siege of Gresson Street”. Five policemen lay dead, so shocking Hong Kong that over half the population turned out to watch their funeral procession.

    One of the dead, Inspector Mortimor O’Sullivan, came from Newmarket: a small town nestled deep in rural Ireland. He, along with a dozen and more relatives, had sailed out to Hong Kong to join the Police Force.

    Using family records and memories alongside extensive research in Hong Kong, Ireland and London, Patricia O’Sullivan tells the story of these policemen and the criminals they dealt with. This book also gives a rare glimpse into the day-to-day life of working-class Europeans at the time, as it follows the Newmarket men, their wives and families, from their first arrival in 1864 through to 1941 and beyond.

    “This groundbreaking book is a story of life, death, and crime in colonial Hong Kong. It is also an account of an important part of Hong Kong’s population that has eluded most historians: the European working class. With an arsenal of previously untapped materials in Ireland, Britain and Hong Kong, Patricia O’Sullivan tells the remarkable tales of the families who built their own ‘little Ireland’ in Hong Kong.” – John M. Carroll, Dept. of History, University of Hong Kong

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    Introduction

  • Hong Kong Noir (Akashic noir series)

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    Edited by Jason Y. Ng and Susan Blumberg-Kason

    Published in association with Akashic Books

    Akashic continues its groundbreaking series of original noir anthologies, launched in 2004 with Brooklyn Noir. Each story is set in a distinct neighbourhood or location within the city of the book.

    Hong Kong Noir features brand-new stories by Jason Y. Ng, Xu Xi, Marshall Moore, Brittani Sonnenberg, Tiffany Hawk, James Tam, Rhiannon Jenkins Tsang, Christina Liang, Feng Chi-shun, Charles Philipp Martin, Shannon Young, Shen Jian, Carmen Suen and Ysabelle Cheung.

    What will Hong Kong look like in five years, ten years, or thirty years when the “one country, two systems” promise expires? It’s impossible to foresee. Hong Kong’s future may be beyond our control, but some things aren’t. We can continue to write about our beloved city and work our hardest to preserve it in words.

    When we asked our contributors to write their noir stories, we didn’t give them specific content guidelines other than to make sure their stories end on a dark note. What we received was a brilliant collection of ghost stories, murder mysteries, domestic dramas, cops-and-robbers tales, and historical thrillers that capture Hong Kong in all its dark glory. The result is every bit as eclectic, quirky, and delightful as the city they write about.

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    Contents and Introduction

  • Destination Shanghai

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    18 true stories of those who went...

    For the privileged a cosmopolitan pleasure ground; for the desperate a port of last resort.

    A pot of gold at the end of an Oriental rainbow; a thick slice of hell denounced from the pulpit.

    The start of a journey for many; the end of the road for some.

    A place to find fame, or to seek anonymity; rogues, chancers, showgirls, criminals…

    For so many people from so many lands, there was one phrase that sent a tingle of hope or a shiver of anticipation down every spine:

    “DESTINATION SHANGHAI”

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    Contents and Introduction 

    Shanghai’s Most Charming Gangster: Elly ‘The Swiss’ Widler (1940)

  • Hong Kong Beat: True Stories From One of the Last British Police Officers in Colonial Hong Kong

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    Sex, drugs, gambling, ghosts, drinking, rugby, overseas adventures – and even some police work.

    Hong Kong on the edge of empire was a place teeming with triads, smugglers, Chinese immigrants and Vietnamese refugees. Simon’s memoir of his time in the Hong Kong police force – from the 1970s until after the 1997 handover – is a fast-paced tale of his exploits. From the murky back streets of Kowloon to the open seas in the Marine division, his shocking and hilarious tales offer an alternative look back at what life was really like on the Hong Kong beat.

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    Chapters 1, 2 and 3

  • Women, Crime and the Courts: Hong Kong 1841-1941

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    Kwan Lai-chun was sick of being made to feel second-class by her husband’s concubine; sick of her mother-in-law’s endless carping about the money she spent; sick of the whole family. Late one sticky, humid night, something snapped in her – and she grabbed the meat chopper. Within minutes, three people were dead: the concubine with over 70 gashes, many of them to the bone.

    Kwan was found guilty and became the second and last woman in Hong Kong to suffer the death penalty. But behind her story, and those of the city’s other female murderers, lie complex webs of relationships and jealousies, poverty and despair.

    Taking the first 100 years of Hong Kong’s colonial history, this book unravels the lives of women – Chinese and Westerners alike – who found themselves on the wrong side of the law. Hong Kong’s female prison population was a tiny fraction of that in Britain or America, but there are still plenty of tales from its women kidnappers, smugglers, bomb-makers, thieves and cruel mistresses.

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    Introduction 

  • Master of None: How a Hong Kong high-flyer overcame the devastating experience of imprisonment

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    Does a man need a stint in jail to complete his life experiences?

    From Stanley Prison, corporate high-flyer John T. Hung recounts his life in a sweep of Hong Kong history over five generations – from his family roots in the 19th century through World War II to the present.

    The story tracks the richness of his mixed heritage and upbringing, his steady rise and precipitous fall from the pinnacles of corporate Hong Kong to the life-destroying court case and heartbreaking incarceration.

    With wry and subtle humour, Hung describes his colourful yet volatile life, interwoven into the social, commercial, political and sporting tapestry of Hong Kong and South East Asia.

    Master of None is a soulful exploration of human achievements, frailties, resilience in the face of adversity, and above all, the importance of family support in overcoming whatever fate may deal us.

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    Chapter 1  Chapter 32

  • Hong Kong Noir: Fifteen true tales from the dark side of the city

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    Hong Kong pathologist Feng Chi-shun was once part-owner of a dive bar in Kowloon City: a rough part of town which was home to the Sun Yee On triad gang. During that time, he heard a lot of stories.

    How about the street sleeper who was a secret millionaire, or the man who chose to end it all in Chungking Mansions? Do you want to know the details of Kowloon's gruesome Hello Kitty murder, or what the taxi driver from hell did to his passengers? How about Elvis of the Orient, the ancient movie star who fooled hundreds of people for his final performance, or the student who stumbled into the 1967 riots and entered the world of girlie bars? And what was the truth about the girl with the eagle tattoo?

    The 15 stories in Hong Kong Noir offer a glimpse of what happens in the shadows.

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    Foreword   Inside Hello Kitty's Head   The Taxi Driver from Hell

     

     

  • King Hui: The Man Who Owned All the Opium in Hong Kong

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    with a foreword by Sir David Tang

    From the start of the Korean war to the end of the Vietnam war, Hong Kong was a major R&R centre for soldiers and sailors. And there were thousands of local people who made their money making sure these visitors had a good time and got the suits and the girls they wanted. In fact they didn’t just wait for their customers to arrive – they sailed out in a flotilla of small boats to greet the ships as they entered the harbour. And then, when the ships had anchored, they shimmied up the anchor chain to be the first to get the orders for shirts and trousers. These were the tailor shop order men. Peter Hui was one of them.

    But who was Peter? What was his story?

    Well, before he took to being a tailor he had been a famous kung fu fighter; a rich playboy, a frequenter of the pleasure houses of Macau; a gambler (he had run three gambling joints in Canton when the Communists walked in); the brains behind a gang of armed robbers (he alone escaped arrest when their third robbery went wrong); an associate of triads – and, before all that, he had been the owner of the biggest string of Mongolian ponies at the Hong Kong Jockey Club – that was during the war years when he was a leading collaborator of the Japanese. He had once, for a very short time, owned all the opium in Hong Kong!

    Later, after his tailoring days had gone flat, he was paid by a CIA officer to report on events in China. This was during the tumultuous years of the Cultural Revolution, when Red Guard factions fought amongst each other.

    Some periods in history are best illuminated by the stories of men and women who lived through them. This is one of those stories. As we follow Peter’s life – his ups, his downs – we see in sharp focus what it was like to be a Chinese man in the British colony of Hong Kong through most of the years of the 20th century. This is the true, bizarre story of a man who knew everybody and saw everything. He wasn’t a wicked man. He was just trying to get by, like everyone else. This is his truly fascinating story.

    And yet this book is not just one man’s story. It is the story of a time and place – colonial Hong Kong, Portuguese Macau and the south China hinterland between Hong Kong and Canton – seen from the unique point of view of a man who was at home at all levels of society. There are, for example, no other published accounts of the Japanese occupation of Hong Kong as seen from the non-combatant Chinese perspective.

    The World of Suzie Wong was a best-selling novel in the 1960s – and this story is its background. If Suzie had been a real girl, Peter would have known her.

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    Introduction

  • Eating Smoke: One man’s descent into drug psychosis in Hong Kong’s triad heartland

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    Chris Thrall left the Royal Marines to find his fortune in Hong Kong, but instead found himself homeless and hooked on crystal methamphetamine.

    Soon he began working for the 14K, Hong Kong’s largest crime family, as a doorman in one of their nightclubs in the Wan Chai red-light district.

    Dealing with psychosis, conspiracy and the ‘foreign triad’ – a secretive expat clique which, unbeknown to the world, works hand-in-hand with the Chinese mafia – he had to survive in the world’s most unforgiving city, addicted to the world’s most dangerous drug.

    “A triad-controlled nightclub is not a clever place to work if you’re addicted to a drug with a tendency to induce horrifying paranoia. A lot of bad stuff is going to happen and it’s very easy for an Ice-addled mind to imagine that even worse stuff is also going on. This is at the heart of Thrall’s nightmare and it’s a narrative device that makes Eating Smoke work so well.” – South China Morning Post

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    Excerpt 1

  • Whispers and Moans: Interviews with the men and women of Hong Kong’s sex industry

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    Hong Kong has a bewildering range of sex businesses offering services to suit all imaginable tastes: from the glitzy nightclubs of Tsim Sha Tsui East, through the saunas, karaoke lounges and one-woman brothels of Mong Kok, to the streets and short-time hotels of Sham Shui Po.

    Chinese-language sex magazines print reviews of individual prostitutes, and promote an ever-widening array of bizarre sexual practices. Even mainstream newspapers engage pimps as columnists. Business appears to be booming – but there are hungry newcomers to this underground economy. How do local prostitutes deal with the ruthless competition posed by an endless supply of girls from mainland China?

    To find out, Yeeshan Yang spent a year gaining the trust of the city's sex workers, interviewing 50 hookers, hostesses, toy boys, transsexual prostitutes, mama-sans and brothel owners. The result is an eye-opening book which shows the human side of sex for sale. Whispers and Moans contains tales of easy money, financial ruin and hopeless love affairs – and rare first-hand insights into Hong Kong's huge but hidden sex industry.

    Film adaptations: Director Herman Yau has brought this book to the big screen in two movies: Whispers and Moans, which had its premiere at the Hong Kong International Film Festival, and True Women For Sale, for which Prudence Liew won Best Actress at the Golden Horse Film Awards.

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    A rose by any other name

  • The Cleaner: The true story of one of the world’s most successful money launderers

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    with a foreword by Howard Marks, bestselling author of Mr. Nice

    In the 1980s, Bruce Aitken became one of the world’s most successful money launderers. Discover the ingenious methods he used to shift vast sums of currency across the globe.

    From humble beginnings in New Jersey, Bruce was destined to be a baseball player until fate intervened, in the form of a knee injury, and forever changed the course of his life.

    What started innocently enough, by answering an ad in the newspaper, turned into a globe-trotting lifestyle of moving money – huge sums of money – for some of the world’s most notorious and shadiest characters. From the jungles of Vietnam to the money capitals of the world, Bruce moved in circles where people would unquestioningly hand over millions of dollars to him on a handshake, to be deposited into Swiss bank accounts.

    Learn the truth behind the Lockheed Scandal, the Cessna-Milner affair, the Nugan Hand scandal and one of the largest drug busts in US history that brought the party to an end. It all started to crash via an event in Reno, Nevada, and nearly cost Bruce the rest of his life in prison.

    A unique and perfect insight into the money-laundering world of thirty-odd years ago.” Howard Marks

  • Forty Nights (Eating Smoke #2)

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    The stand-alone sequel to the international bestseller Eating Smoke

    Former commando Chris Thrall returned from a year in Hong Kong suffering severe psychosis from crystal meth addiction. The medical profession said recovery was unlikely and recommended admitting him to a psychiatric hospital.

    There’s nothing wrong with me!”

    Chris refused all intervention and his life descended into a chaotic cycle of drug use that almost killed him... until salvation came in a surprising form.

    In this long-awaited follow-up to Eating Smoke, Chris tells a harrowing yet refreshing and often hilarious account of addiction and one gutsy journey to recovery.

    "After the harrowing events in Eating Smoke, if you thought Chris Thrall departed Kai Tak bound for a life of cream teas and Little England 'normality'... then you've likely not experienced the depravity and horror of drug addiction. In Forty Nights, Chris continues to confront his demons with his usual engaging honesty, side-splitting Royal Marine humour and storytelling at its finest." – Phil Whelan, RTHK

  • The Alphabet of Vietnam

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    When men come back from wars, they bring their wars back with them

    When Joe dies, his brother Jack thinks it’s an accident... until the parcel arrives with Joe’s diaries and notebooks, and the map of the cabin high up in the Appalachians where Joe’s war buddy, Wash, is hiding out with a girl he’s kidnapped – just the latest in a long line of girls. Joe has one last favour to ask of his brother. He wants Jack to rescue the girl and – if he has to – kill Wash too.

    So starts a complex and intense tale that involves a journey back to Vietnam and into the dark past: a past where Clausewitz, the philosopher of war, meets de Sade, the philosopher of man’s own individual evil.

    But there are too the incendiary eyes of innocent judgment. And there is love – and love is complicated.

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    Chapter 1